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Archive for Monday, August 27, 2012

Statehouse Live: Brownback, legislators approve funding that they say will complete Statehouse project

August 27, 2012

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State elected officials on Monday approved a plan by Gov. Sam Brownback for an additional $12.4 million to go toward completing the visitor's center on the north side of the Statehouse. That pushes the Capitol restoration and renovation project to $332 million.

State elected officials on Monday approved a plan by Gov. Sam Brownback for an additional $12.4 million to go toward completing the visitor's center on the north side of the Statehouse. That pushes the Capitol restoration and renovation project to $332 million.

— State elected leaders on Monday added another $12.4 million to the ever-increasing price tag for the Statehouse renovation project, which is now pegged at approximately $332 million.

Gov. Sam Brownback put together a proposal that he said will complete the project.

"It's time to get it done," said Brownback, who expressed frustration with the project's cost, which started more than a decade ago with original estimates at $90 million.

The new funding includes $7 million from the Kansas Department of Transportation, which said those dollars will come from operational savings and federal funds, and $5.4 million in bonds.

The funds will finish a visitor's center, which is currently a shell; and go toward landscaping, sidewalks, driveways and removal of a huge crane. Funds to fix the Capitol's roof and copper dome have already been approved.

The project is now scheduled to be finished by the end of 2013.

The State Finance Council, which includes legislative leaders and is chaired by Brownback, voted 7-1 for the new funding.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said legislators are frustrated with the costs of the renovation and restoration of the historic building, but said it would be an injustice if the visitor's center wasn't completed.

"This building belongs to the people and they ought to have a place where they can gather," Davis said.

State Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, was the lone dissenting vote against the new funding. McGinn said she opposed tapping KDOT dollars, saying that state officials continue to use highway funds as a "slush fund." She also said she thought the full Legislature should have voted on the proposal instead of only the Finance Council.

Statehouse Architect Barry Greis said the visitor's center on the north side of the Capitol will include a marble floor inlaid with a state map donated by the Kansas Association of Counties. There will be an an auditorium, classroom, two large restrooms, an area to relax and eat lunch, an interview room for legislators, and a possible "meditation room," he said.

In addition to the new funding, the project's contractor, J.E. Dunn Construction Co. has identified $5 million in savings that will be plowed back into other areas of the project, officials said.

Brownback appeared obviously frustrated by the project. "It's time to get it done," he said, adding, "I haven't been the biggest fan of this project."

House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, said he thought some of the items, including the entrance and exit to the visitor's center, had already been financed.

But Greis said that was not the case and that he regretted if there had been a misunderstanding.

Brownback also asked about a private group that had been set up to raise funds for the visitor's center. But Greis said the group had been waiting to see what the state would do, and that it wanted to raise funds for enhancements to the visitor's center.

Brownback and several legislators were adamant that the project be completed by the end of 2013. "It's done. End of next year, we're done," Brownback said. He added that the new copper roof will be shiny like a new penny, "but it will cost a lot more than that."

Comments

Tracy Rogers 2 years ago

$332 million vs. $90 million estimate. Hmmmm.....no wonder this state is in debt. Idiots!!

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fu7il3 2 years ago

I hope this fits within Brownback's part of the proposed ten percent budget reduction.

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Kevin Haislip 2 years ago

1 third of a billion dollars wow that's nutz !

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Crazy_Larry 2 years ago

The underground parking garage has 560 spaces. The legislators and their lobbyists do not want to be exposed to the plebeians any longer than they have to...gawd forbid they have to walk a half-block in the rain or be confronted by a citizen they 'represent'. Ridiculous waste of tax dollars. Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!

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texburgh 2 years ago

Legislators have parking spaces as they should. So do legislative staff. Lobbyists do not. And with a two hour visitor parking limit , they won't be using many of the visitor spaces.

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DrQuack 2 years ago

Millions upon millions of dollars for the Statehouse. How come the legislators can't seem to find the funds to keep KPERS solvent in the long term? Why have KPERS retirees not seen a lost of living (COLA) for nearly two decades?

2

jafs 2 years ago

I agree they should keep KPERS solvent.

But, as far as I know, there's no promise of COLA for KPERS recipients.

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CountyResident 2 years ago

New money to help pay for this project will come from the Federal Government and $5.4 million in new debt issued by Kansas. And why does Brownback and his followers complain about the federal deficit?

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kansasredlegs 2 years ago

Each and every time Gov. Sam slashes and cuts the budget to help the taxpayers of this State, our local guy, Davis, is all up in arms about this administration. Funny, when it's continued spending on this boondoggle, our local guy, Davis can't get to the trough fast enough. So, local guy Davis, people need a building, i.e., visitor center, to go visit a building? Uh?.

How long has our local guy been there? How many votes has he cast for budgets supporting this boondoggle? If even one, then it's time to go local guy.

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jafs 2 years ago

Well, the visitors center is for the public.

And, it's a tiny, tiny fraction of the ridiculous spending on this project.

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George_Braziller 2 years ago

$12.4 million more for the capitol building but a few hundred thousand for the Kansas Arts Commission was too much even though it cost the state millions of dollars in lost matching federal dollars and grant funding eligibility?

My grandmother could still do a better job at managing finances and she died 13 years ago.

1

texburgh 2 years ago

The money would have been available easily if the legeislature had not given away billions in corporate and rich folk tax cuts over the last 15 years. Of course those cuts were to the "job creators" who now need Sam's new tax cuts because they were unable to create any jobs with the billions they already got.

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tbaker 2 years ago

Which governor started the project and approved a grossly under-bid contract? Was that Brownback, or a democrat?

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chootspa 2 years ago

So that makes it ok to add another 12.4 million to the price tag? Good to know.

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tbaker 2 years ago

Classic example of Red Herring fail.

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chootspa 2 years ago

Yes, your post was. Good of you to recognize it. The issue at hand is the extra money being proposed now, not the money that is already spent.

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jafs 2 years ago

Both are issues, in my view.

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IgnorantYokel 2 years ago

IIRC, the renovations began in 2001 under then Governor Bill Graves, a republican. Not that it matters, of course.

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progressive_thinker 2 years ago

The project started in 1998 under Graves, and was well in swing before Sebelius took office.

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jafs 2 years ago

  1. The legislature, which has been solidly R for as long back as I can recall, approves stuff like this, right?

  2. How do you determine if a project is "under-bid", exactly? And, if they submit a bid at a certain level, and then wind up charging you ten times what was bid, perhaps that shouldn't be ok, and they should be held to the amount bid in the first place.

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Mike George 2 years ago

As the article indicates, the company who did the original estimates and has "managed" the project from the beginning is J.E. Dunn Construction, Kansas City, MO.

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Thomas Bryce 2 years ago

There is an industry term for what the contractors do on a Govt. Job."Milk'n It".

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Thomas Bryce 2 years ago

The Historical Structural Report was compiled in 1999 by Treanor Architects with the help of Lynch Consulting,LLC and TCI( The Collaborative,Inc.) and "other subcontractors".J.E. Dunn did not come in to the picture until March 2001 . They have been in charge or managed the construction since.(All info from Kansas Legislator Briefing Book 2011 Section W-5)

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Thomas Bryce 2 years ago

At Least the Architects are from Kansas(Lawrences own Treanor Architects)

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Thomas Bryce 2 years ago

Who approved the construction contract? Normally there is a Time of completion deadline for each stage of a project. Failure to meet the deadline results in a penalty or fine. Cost over runs are usually covered by the Contractor(or their insurance). Who approved all of this and why weren't these types of stipulations put into the contract or were they? Horribly Mismanaged from the looks of all of this. There should be an audit.

1

Topple 2 years ago

It was my understanding that when a contractor/construction company bids on a job, they are offering a contract to do the alloted work for that price. Hence, if the job ends up costing $330 million instead of the $90 million they bid, the construction company eats the $240 million loss and finishes the job per the contract.

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Topple 2 years ago

Strike that, I've been educated that this rule of the road applies to everyone except government, who will just pay for the increased costs.

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Thomas Bryce 2 years ago

Contractor + Government Contract ="Milk'n It"!

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headdoctor 2 years ago

This sounds like another case of Brownback not understanding how Federal funding works. I will bet the Feds wont be amused if they divert money intended for the DOT to this renovation project.

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Kevin Haislip 2 years ago

1 third of a billion dollars ! would buy a lot of text books.

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texburgh 2 years ago

There are reasons for the cost overruns. I don't deny that some sure have the feel if "milking it" as some have said here but there are legitimate reasons as well. Some are there because the legislature added more projects after it was started - the parking garage, I believe, was an add on. Additionally, things were discovered during the work that were not anticipated. The dome cracks are one example. The point is, instead of assuming the contractor is "milking it" just to make your usual anti-government rant, why not explore the facts? I guess that's too much work.

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jafs 2 years ago

Additional projects are legitimate additions to the cost.

Things discovered during the work, not quite as much for me - a good contractor should examine the project carefully before bidding on it, to make a good estimate.

And, even with a couple of things like that, how does the project increase in cost by so much???

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Thomas Bryce 2 years ago

How is accusing the contractor of "milk'n It" an Anti government Rant? If anything it would be anti contractor or anti Union which I am Not. I am not Anti government either. I AM anti B.S.! That is what They(both the contractor and Topeka) are feeding us.

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Thomas Bryce 2 years ago

The parking Garage was the First Project. October 8, 2002 was the start date.The idea was added in Dec 2001 during initial planning and before actual construction started.I recommend you pull up the Kansas Legislator Briefing Book 2011, Section W-5. A lot of good facts from Topeka itself.Problem is the 2011 report only takes you to Dec. 2007 when the estimate was revised to $285,556,416. Hopefully, the rest will be in the 2012 Book.

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jafs 2 years ago

I thought original estimates were something like $3 million, not $90.

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Thomas Bryce 2 years ago

Pretty good Timeline of estimates and costs on-line at The Kansas Legislative Research Dept.'s Kansas Legislator Briefing Book 2011 under W-5 Capitol Restoration. Interesting. Idea started in March 1998. Took two years of analysis to come up with the initial 90 million estimate.

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